Before Saturday night’s game against Heritage, Holy Trinity girls basketball coach Jay Castillo stressed three things to his players:
Be focused, execute and play their game.
Well, Heritage did a really nice job of taking the Tigers out of their game in the first half. But holy smokes, did things ever turn around in the second.
Holy Trinity went into the locker room trailing 33-32 at the half, then unleased a 45-12 run over the final two quarters to turn what had been a close game into a 77-45 blowout.
Talk about your tale of two halves.
“That’s exactly what I said in (the team meeting room),” Castillo said. “The difference between the first half and the second half was us playing our game.
“In the first half, we let them speed us up, which is a credit to Heritage for taking us out of our game and making us play a different game. When we settled down, thank goodness we were able to execute.”
Junior Ionna Garcia had 21 points to lead the Tigers (8-3). Freshman Alinah Sarratt had 15 and sophomore Lynn Reith had 10. Junior Caroline Lacey and sophomore Kiki Norris were next with eight points each.
“If we just play our game and do what we know how to do, we’re a good team,” said sophomore point guard Marissa Cloud.
Outside of a one-point road loss at St. Cloud earlier in the week, the Tigers have been on quite a roll this season, winning eight of their past nine games.
“We’ve been playing very well, especially at home,” Cloud said. “We’re undefeated at home and in Brevard (County). We have some tough teams to come, but I think we’re going to do really good, especially in regionals and districts.”
A varsity player since the seventh grade, Cloud has certainly grown up in the Tigers program and appears ready to help them make that deep postseason run they are working toward.
“Definitely playing with older girls has matured me and brought up my basketball IQ for a point guard,” she said. “I’m really thankful for that.”
Cloud’s ability to help the Tigers break the Heritage press and get into their offense proved to be a big part of Holy Trinity’s big second half comeback. The Tigers also did a better job on the defensive end and on the boards while not rushing their shots as they did in the first two quarters.
“I think it was more of a team spark (in the second half). I don’t think there was necessarily one individual who made everything happen,” Castillo said. “We came out and they just played together. I’ll give some credit to my point guard, Cloud, for keeping them going.
“She actually started talking more than she usually does, trying to get them going. That’s part of growing up and learning and she’s beginning to mature. As she gets better, I think everyone else does.”
With no seniors on the roster, the Tigers would certainly seem to have a bright future. But the way Holy Trinity is playing, there’s no doubt it believes that future is now.
“We’ve been playing well, shooting well and executing,” Castillo said. “I think as a team they’re accepting their roles and what they need to do. We’re cutting down (the mental errors) and just playing basketball.”